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An act of cultural destruction

Thursday, 27 August 2015

In Syria, the group calling themselves ISIS are strapping high explosives to the ancient remains of Palmyra and reducing them to rubble. Meanwhile, here is a picture of my local public library:

Save Ross-on-Wye Library

The good news is, no one is planning to raze this building to the ground. Unfortunately, however, there is a group of people (let's call them the HCC) proposing its destruction as a library - by closing it down. They are Herefordshire County Council, the people who run local government where I live. They want to close my library and nearly all the other public libraries in our county in order to "save money".


Now, the chances are if you're reading this blog you've never been to my library, but it's a building I know well. As a reader and a writer and a parent it's a place I value very much. There's nothing particularly remarkable about it, except that it's a public library which makes it remarkable and wonderful just for being there. You can go and sit and read books. They'll even let you take the books away to read at home for free. How incredible is that? You can read the papers, get advice, get warm, surf the internet, look at art, play Warhammer - or maybe take your laptop and do some writing.

There's been a public library in my town since 1873. I used to work in the original building, gifted to us "in perpetuity". Now, 142 years later, with our country hugely more affluent in material terms, I simply don't accept we can no longer afford the service. I presume my local Council don't actually want to close our library; that they feel they have no choice because of budegtary constraints. Personally, I think they're just not fighting hard enough to protect the people they're supposed to be serving.

I know we're not the only ones facing this sort of cultural desruction. But this is my library and it needs defending. There's a petition here to save it. If you live in a different country or on a different continent, you may think this isn't your fight, in which case fair enough. But you're still welcome to sign as far as I'm concerned. I believe libraries - and classical ruins - enrich us all and their loss diminishes us all...

12 comments:

  1. It's incredible to think a community would consider closing a library to save money. This is unthinkable. I hope you and other supporters in your area can make your voices heard to keep the library open.

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    1. Thanks. Lots of us are fighting it...

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  2. I think they will eventually try to do the same with my local library. I must admit I don't use it. If it had a better space for me to take my laptop or to be able sit with a notepad and write, I would. At the moment, I'd be rubbing elbows with the person next to me.

    If you want an excellent example of how to make a library viable today, check out the one in Paignton. A large modern building that also has a cafe, police desk, meeting rooms, computers, and plenty of alcoves with desks. It really is superb. How I wish we had one like that in my town.

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    1. Thanks, Ellie. The galling thing is, our library pretty much does all that. It's much-used and much loved. Inconceivable it could be closed down.

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  3. It is sad to see Library's close, or be physically destroyed. The future is looking less creative.

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  4. Even though I'm WAY across the pond, I signed it. I don't know what we'd do without our local library. It's in walking distance, and we usually visit every other week to load up.

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  5. Jeez. That's grim. This sounds very familiar. Didn't they try last year?

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    Replies
    1. Yes - they tried last year. We fought it off, so now they're trying again. It's an interesting approach to representative democracy...

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  6. Don't the council have some kind of legal responsibility to provide library services to the community it serves? Surely so.

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    1. They have a duty to provide library services, which they are construing to mean "one library for the whole county". I kid you not.

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I'd love to know what you think.